You Reap What You Sow Part 1: A Harvest Of Faith
On Sunday 3rd September at our morning service, we started our series You Reap What You Sow with the topic 'A Harvest Of Faith'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to this, click here.
We are beginning our new series about reaping what we sow and will be looking at the 6 catalysts for growing in faith.
Today I am going to be focussing on private disciplines that can reap a harvest of faith, and pave the way for profound encounters with God.
Gardeners usually reap what they sow. If you plant nasturtiums it is rare that cabbages come up. One year I discovered potatoes growing in my compost bin. They had grown from peelings. Our lives can be like that too. We are sometimes unaware of what we are sowing or where, but we reap the consequences. You reap what you sow it is a well-known phrase and saying but you also reap where you sow.
Jesus talks about this in Matthew’s account of Jesus life. You can read that by clicking here.
The various soils affect the crop. So it is not just what you sow it is where you sow that matters. The seed that falls on the hard path fails. Are we expending time and energy on things that aren’t productive? Are we sowing in rocky places? Is our faith shallow? Starting well but not putting down strong roots? Perhaps life has just crushed us and we were pulled in other directions. Jesus explains that these weeds are worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth. These distractions keep us from going deep with God. We are either worried about stuff and it takes away that sense that God is there for us and cares for us, or get caught up in materialism and expend most of our time and energy making sure that we have enough money to buy the things that we are convinced that we need. The seed is the same but where is the seed being sown? We are constantly sowing.
Each time that we choose what to do with our time and energy, love and money we sow. The sort of life that we have depends on the choices we make every day about what we sow and where we sow.
The last of the seeds are planted in good soil where the rock and weeds are removed. If we want to reap a harvest of faith what do we have to sow? And where do we sow? Different personal spiritual practices can help. Meditation, prayer, fasting, and study. This is not about going through the motions of a quiet time (reading your Bible and praying) for 5 minutes and then carrying on as normal. It is about deepening your relationship with God, tuning in to him and giving space to have that profound encounter with Him to change us from the inside out. It takes time and thought.
There is also simplicity and solitude, submission and service. Simplicity is about not being materialistic and sowing amongst the weeds. Submission is about submitting to the Bible. There are bits that we might find unpalatable like giving, which is more about trust and faith than money. We shouldn’t pick and choose what to submit to. There are things on this list that I struggle with like fasting. I don’t feel close to God, I feel hungry and bad tempered. But I need to submit to what the Bible tells me to do, so I will in obedience. I used to find silence difficult, but now I love the opportunity to be silent and alone with God. This is when I am most likely to have those profound encounters with God. It is also good to practice the presence of God throughout the day by using short occasions to remind us of God’s presence whatever we are doing.
Our spiritual life ebbs and flows but it is up to us to sow the elements that will grow it. No one else can do that for us. Coming to church every Sunday can help people, but can only take us so far. It is essential that we get together to worship together and learn together. But we need to draw close to God when we are alone and take responsibility for doing things that will help us to grow closer to God. Sowing for us needs to be a deliberate act. We are constantly sowing, but are we aware what we are investing in? If we invest time building friendships that draw us away from God, what will we reap? If we are caught up in consumerism and doing what everyone else is doing, who will we become like? As they used to say about computers: “Garbage in Garbage out”. It is the same with our lives.
So often we choose to do what is good and sacrifice what is best.
But as we sow into our relationship with God on our own, we reap a harvest of faith. We can have a great relationship with God and those profound encounters with Him that build our faith. If you are giving 5 minutes a day or week to spend with God and an hour or two to get physically fit what will you reap; a healthy body or a healthy soul? If we compare time spent on the computer or tele against time spent getting to know God. What is likely to have the biggest influence on us?
Do you need to redirect your energy, time love and money? Because each time we choose what to do with our time and energy, love and money we sow. The sort of life that we have depends on the choices we make every day about what we sow and where we sow.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your Life Group)
1. What is it that first strikes you about this message? Why do you think that is?
2. Make 4 pie or bar charts. One for time, one for energy, one for love, and one for money. Try to track on there the proportions over a week of where you spend these resources. Where are you sowing? Are there any surprises?
3. Are there any changes that you would like to make about where and what you are sowing?
4. Do you know what you would like your spiritual life to be like? Can you put that into words? What would you need to do to make this a reality?
5. Do you feel that you need help in understanding more about these private Spiritual practices? Where do you think that you could get this help from?
6. What is going to be the key thing that you take away from this message?
7. Sometimes our gardens get overgrown and it looks like an overwhelming task and we don’t know where to start. But the best thing to do is just to pick a piece of the garden and make a start. It is the same with our lives. You may be feeling overwhelmed with things that need to change and not know where to begin. I encourage you to start somewhere. What would be an achievable goal to set for yourself?